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Reengineered mail centers bring faster mail

About one-third of MIT people are now getting their mail via a reengineered system of Distributed Mail Centers (DMCs), with the rest of the Institute to follow over the next year.

The DMC model, used almost universally in colleges and universities, offers several advantages:

  • A convenient exchange location for incoming and outgoing mail between the central mail service team and the customer.
  • Uniform service across the campus.
  • Reduced central staffing which can be redirected to processing outgoing USPS mail (see details below).
  • Faster mail delivery; with two deliveries/pickups expected in the near future.
  • 24-hour customer access to mail.

Eleven DMCs are now in operation with a total of about 35 expected according to Penny Guyer, manager of mail operations. The first one was opened at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) in Building 35 in mid-May and others have been coming on-line at the rate of about two per month.

"There have been concerns about ADA compliance, location convenience, safety and security," Ms. Guyer said. "We have addressed these in open discussions with the customers as each facility prepares to open. Although many departments have concerns about security, our experience as well as that at other universities indicates that very few security problems actually occur with this delivery model."

As the DMCs begin operating, the central staffing requirements for mail delivery is reduced. Those people have begun to work on central processing of MIT's outgoing US Postal Service mail where significant savings can be expected.

MIT mails more than seven million pieces of USPS mail annually, virtually all of it at full rates, the mail reengineering team discovered. Major improvements in postal automation permit the USPS to offer discounts for presorted and barcoded mail that MIT has not been able to use because of its decentralized system.

"There is a potential for a 4.6 cent savings-nearly a nickel-for every piece of mail that qualifies for a discount," Ms. Guyer said.

Beginning July 1, the new mail service team began to process outgoing mail for four departments (Sloan, Physical Plant, the Registrar and Purchasing), as part of its pilot program. This mail is now metered at 27.4 cents instead of the full 32-cent rate and sent to a consolidation service where it is barcoded and sorted together with that of other mailers to achieve the minimum required for USPS discounts.

A further study will show if MIT can eliminate the outside consolidation step and maintain the volume necessary to realize the full 4.6-cent discount per piece. Full centralization of outgoing mail is expected to be complete by next June.

Questions and suggestions are welcome via e-mail or at the new central mail number, x3-6000.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 16, 1995.

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